Defects in the processing of procollagen to collagen are demonstrable in cultured fibroblasts from patients with the Ehlers-Danlos and osteogenesis imperfecta syndromes. Academic Article uri icon


  • This is a study of the processing of procollagen to collagen in cultures of skin and tendon fibroblasts. Processing was markedly increased by growing cells for 2-4 days postconfluence and then adding ascorbate to the medium for 2 days prior to labeling with [3H] proline. With this system, more than two-thirds of the pro-alpha chains of type I procollagen in the culture medium, and more than 90% of those in the cell layer, were rapidly processed to pC-alpha, pN-alpha, or alpha chains. Purified, exogenous procollagen was also rapidly processed in cell-free culture medium. The results showed for the first time that exogenous procollagen can be processed in conditioned cell-free medium. The system was then used to compare the processing of procollagen in the medium of normal fibroblasts, cells from one bovine and four human variants of osteogenesis imperfecta, and those from eight human variants of the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The cells could be divided into three groups, based on their ability to process type I procollagen: normal, consistently slow, and very slow. The cause of the decreased processing was shown to be associated with either a mutation causing a shortening of an alpha chain or decreased activity of procollagen N-proteinase in cell-free culture medium. Decreased processing of procollagen to collagen occurred with cultured fibroblasts from patients with different forms of both osteogenesis imperfecta and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Both of these disease syndromes are associated with abnormalities in the structure or metabolism of procollagen in fibrous connective tissues, bones, and teeth. The results show that defects in the structure, synthesis, or processing of procollagen are readily demonstrated with cultured fibroblasts.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Minor, R. R., Sippola-Thiele, M., McKeon, J., Berger, J., & Prockop, D. J

citation count

  • 40

complete list of authors

  • Minor, RR||Sippola-Thiele, M||McKeon, J||Berger, J||Prockop, DJ

publication date

  • July 1986